Expecting partners often feel like they are left in the dark when it comes to their partner’s pregnancy. While it is true that the pregnant person is going through the majority of the physical changes, pregnancy affects your whole family. It can be so difficult for dads-to-be to know how to support you as you prepare for labour, birth, and the ‘surreal’ postpartum!
Send this to your partner to read!
The first step is to educate yourself on the process! This may mean reading books or articles, talking to other parents, or attending birthing classes. It is important for you to have a basic understanding of what will be happening throughout the whole process so that you can be as supportive as possible!
On the day of delivery, there are a few things you can do to help your partner through the labour and delivery process.
- Try to stay calm and positive. This will be a tough / possibly long day for both of you, and it will be helpful if you can remain calm and upbeat.
- Offer physical and emotional support – be there and be present.
- Be prepared to step in if your partner needs help with anything else, such as breathing, comfort relieving techniques, or relaxation techniques.
The birth of a child is one of the most amazing and life-changing events you will ever experience! By taking the time to prepare yourself and being a supportive partner during labour and delivery, you can make this special day even more memorable — for both you and your partner.
What is the role of a support person during labour?
The main role of the coach or support person is to offer physical and emotional support to the labouring woman. This may involve things like massaging her back, helping her to get into different positions, providing encouragement and moral support, and ensuring she stays hydrated and nourished. It is also important to keep in mind that everyone will have different preferences for labour support! This is why it is so important for you both to talk about it before. It’s also so helpful that you are likely the closest person to your partner and can help by reading her cues and knowing what she needs to hear or what will help.
Types of support you can provide during labour:
During labour, physical support is a hue deal! It’s something that you can provide or you can hire a Doula to help with as well. Things such as massaging her back, holding her hand, or giving her a hug between contractions can make the world of difference. It is important to be as supportive as possible but sometimes it can be a real challenge to know what to do!
Help her stay comfortable: During labour, your partner will likely want to move around and change positions often. Help her to find positions that are comfortable for her and that help her to cope with the pain. These are covered in detail in the Empowered Birth Class to give you the confidence you need to rock this!
Labour can be a very emotional time for your partner. She may be feeling scared, anxious, or overwhelmed. It is important to be there for her emotionally and to offer words of encouragement and be present and calm so she can trust your calmness.
Make sure she has everything she needs
Your partner will need lots of fluids during labour, so make sure she has access to water and other drinks (electrolyte drinks are helpful). She may also need snacks to help her keep her energy up! Things like Embrace Doula’s Energy Balls can be an awesome snack in labour and postpartum.
Be an advocate for her
Your partner may need you to be her advocate during labour. This means that you will need to communicate with the medical staff on her behalf and make sure that her voice is being heard and her preferences are being honoured. It’s so important for you both to be fully on the same page before. Having a Birth Plan helps you go through the scenarios and make sure you know the options and what your preferences are! (keep reading for tips on this!)
Coping With Contractions
Contractions during labour are a normal process that helps the baby to move down the birth canal. Each woman experiences labour differently and there is no “right” way to cope with contractions. Some women find that focusing on their breath or using relaxation techniques helps them to cope, while others prefer to distract themselves from the pain. Because everyone is unique, having a lot of tools to work with helps a lot!
How Birth Partners Can Help During Contractions
Relaxation is crucial during labour. When we get tense it is human nature for our shoulders to creep up, our stomach starts to turn, and we tend to clench our jaw.
Did you know there is a direct correlation between the tightness of your jaw and your oevic floor?! The more relaxed your jaw is, the more relaxed your pelvic floor will be.
Even though it’s difficult during a contraction, it’s important to be as relaxed as possible. Encouraging deep breathing between contractions can help reduce tension – especially in her shoulders and jaw. The less tension, the more effective her contractions will be during labour progression.
Avoid asking questions while the contractions are happening! This is a big one! Although you may mean well, it takes every bit of concentration to get through them and she will be unable to hold a conversation while the contraction is happening once labour is in the more active stages. Offer calm words of encouragement to help reassure her that you are there to support her and ask what you need to in short questions in between.
Encourage Breathing Exercises
Good oxygenation is critical during labour and delivery, so it’s imperative that you help your partner breathe through their contractions. Focusing on each breath will assist in getting through one contraction at a time, and also helps the birthing parent and baby to stay well-oxygenated.
While telling your partner to ‘just relax‘ may not be well received, there are many other ways to promote relaxation during labour.
If she can maintain calm, the contractions will be more effective at pulling the baby down and putting pressure on the cervix. It’s amazing how reducing tension can help with the whole process.
You can help by watching for signs of tension that may be creeping in and help to refocus her on relaxing her body and allowing her to move in ways that feel good to her at that moment. This may be rocking side to side, walking, bouncing on an exercise ball, or anything else that feels right to her.
Sometimes something as simple as good hand pressure on the shoulders is enough to gently remind her to release the tension by dropping them and relaxing her body. Be gentle yet confident and firm – often, light touch adds to the sensory overwhelm, just don’t press to hard.
Create a Birth Plan Together
Believe me when I say, during labour is not the time to be learning new things! Very likely, while experiencing contractions you may not be able to carry on a conversation or advocate for yourself while coping with the demands of labour. As a birth partner, it is important that you know her preferences and desires so you are able to be her voice when necessary. This is one of the most important roles you will play – did you know that you might be asked to sign the consent forms and give “permission” for emergency measures?
Knowing all of your options, the benefits and risks of procedures, and how to communicate with your care providers to ensure they hear you, are the MOST important things you can do. But it takes a lot of work!
Next Steps To Preparing For Labour And Delivery
Preparing for labour and delivery can feel like such an overwhelming task! However, knowing what to expect can help ease so much of the stress.
As the birth partner, you will be responsible for helping your labouring partner cope with labour and delivery. She will be relying on you to remain calm, confident, and supportive.
One of the best ways to ensure you are ready to provide the support she will need is to take a prenatal course, such as Empowered Birth Prenatal Class! This online prenatal class for Canadian expecting parents will ensure you are prepared, supported, and confident throughout labour and delivery.